Hideki Okajima will start the season in Triple-A along with Alfredo Aceves, Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein announced Monday. Epstein divulged the team's final roster moves in preparation for Friday's season opener at Texas.
The assignments of Okajima and Aceves to Pawtucket makes room in the Boston bullpen for left-hander Dennys Reyes and righty Matt Albers. Reyes and Albers are on major league contracts (after the Sox purchased Reyes' contract Saturday) and do not have options.
Reyes, who turns 34 on April 19, pitched in 59 games for the Cardinals in 2010. He had a 3-1 record with a 3.55 ERA and a WHIP of 1.45. After giving up a hit and a walk in one inning Sunday vs. the Orioles, his spring training ERA sits at 2.70 and his WHIP is 1.40 in 10.0 innings.
Albers, 28, ranked third among American League relievers last season with 75 2/3 innings pitched for the Orioles. He had a 5-3 record with a 4.52 ERA and a WHIP of 1.48. Albers pitched Sunday against his former team and allowed his first two walks and first run of spring training. His 2010 spring training ERA is 2.84 with a WHIP of 1.26 in 12.2 IP.
"A big part of the decision was the preservation of pitching depth," said Epstein, who said that the team would not have been able to keep either Albers or Reyes -- both of whom the team would have expected to be picked up by another club on waivers -- had they not been on the Opening Day roster. "Pitching attrition is usually the biggest culprit in destroying an otherwise promising season."
Aceves, 28, went 3-0 with a 3.00 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in 10 games for the Yankees last season. This spring he has a 4.05 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in 13.1 IP. He will be in the rotation for Triple-A Pawtucket.
Okajima, 35, has spent four seasons with the Red Sox, but he had his worst season in 2010. Okajima went 4-4 with a 4.50 ERA and 1.72 WHIP in 56 games. This spring he has a 5.14 ERA and 1.57 WHIP in 7.0 IP.
"Alfredo and Oki both pitched well enough to be on this team," said Epstein, who added that he expects both to be significant contributors at the big league level this year.
Epstein said that the Sox considered trades involving the pitchers, but that typically deals involving out-of-options players at the end of spring training yield little return. That being the case, he said that the team felt it derived the greatest value by maximizing its depth and keeping all four pitchers -- Reyes and Albers in the majors, Aceves and Okajima in the minors.
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